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James Druckman | MPSA 2015 Empire Series: Do Politics Hinder Scientific Communication?

December 22, 2015 – from MPSA - Midwest Political Science Association
I discuss how political contexts ostensibly hinder the communication of science. I then demonstrate how these “hindrances” can be addressed. But, should they be addressed? How do we define effective scientific communication? Science can play a critical role in the making of public policy. Yet, it only does so if it can be effectively communicated to citizens and policy-makers. In this presentation, I demonstrate three features of the current political environment – media saturation, partisan polarization, and the politicization of science – generate preference formation processes that are often deemed undesirable. I then discuss ways in which one can counteract these dynamics; however, I conclude by asking a larger question: what are the criteria for assessing whether the processing of scientific information generates “better” or “worse” preferences?


Elizabeth Shakman Hurd | Beyond Religious Freedom: The New Global Politics of Religion

February 14, 2015 – from Princeton
Elizabeth Shakman Hurd looks at three critical channels of state-sponsored intervention: international religious freedom advocacy, development assistance and nation building, and international law. She shows how these initiatives make religious difference a matter of law, resulting in a divide that favors forms of religion authorized by those in power and excludes other ways of being and belonging. In exploring the dizzying power dynamics and blurred boundaries that characterize relations between “expert religion,” “governed religion,” and “lived religion,” Hurd charts new territory in the study of religion in global politics.